When we started having kids, I couldn’t wait to attend their events. Now that we are in the heart of parenting, I love that they are producing products and performing skills that they worked hard to learn. The discipline of these activities are good for our kids, but secretly, I really just want to sit back and be an observer of my children for once. I am always so involved in their day-to-day activities, so it is refreshing to just watch them. That is, if my other kids allow that to happen. My oldest son has been playing sports since he was about 3. He has always loved the challenge of hitting a baseball or throwing a football. My other two are following their own paths. My middle son likes basketball and football whereas my daughter enjoys t-ball and volleyball. My role in this life of sports is to appreciate my kids’ abilities from the sidelines, my husband feels a different calling. He has coached all of our children in sports, and I think this is his ticket into heaven.
Why They Coach
My husband’s intention to be a parent volunteer started with my oldest. Once my middle was old enough to play, my husband and the other neighborhood dads became the kids’ coaches for all sports. This keeps my 9-year-old in line, but it also gives him and my husband some quality time together. My son can be ornery. He knows which buttons to push; he gets silly with his best friends; and he likes to drive my husband a little crazy, but for the most part, it is a great situation. After nine years of volunteer coaching for our sons, finally, my daughter was old enough to try Kindergarten basketball. While coaching our middle, my husband also decided he would take charge of his own Kindergarten team for my daughter’s sake. My hubby’s desire to coach our children is a way he has found to connect with them on a different level than just being their “dad”. He volunteers his time doing what he loves, and he tries to get our children to see the beauty in athletics as well.
Parent volunteers are saints among us. How in the world do they do it? I think part of it stems from their love of the sport and competition. Many of them do this because of the learning factor. My husband mentioned that
“Watching the kids grow within a season is a major reason I enjoy it. Seeing the kids gain skills in areas that they didn’t have from the start makes coaching fun.”
Supporting the Coaches
Behind every kid is a parent that is thankful for the time and energy coaches put into a season. We can support our coaches in many ways. It’s true that a thank you nod after a game or bringing snacks when scheduled are good ways to support our kids’ coaches, but I think the biggest gifts come in the form of teaching our children to respect them for their expertise. The coaches definitely want to do the coaching on the court or field, but if we parents are at practices and notice our kid getting out of line, speaking up or reminding them to be quiet when the coach is talking doesn’t hurt. If the practice shouldn’t be interrupted, talk to them that night about it. This can help the coach, the team, and the outcome at many games.
Just like in the classroom, we need to remind our children that this is a time for learning, and if he or she is feeling silly, he or she should not act out because other kids need to learn a specific skill. Remind them that this is a perfect time to be a leader.
Bringing kids to every practice, being on time, or calling and letting those in charge know that our child will not be there are other great ways to show support. The coaches usually have a game plan involving all of the kids. If they know ahead of time of an illness or a vacation, they will be ready to substitute for their original plans. This also shows the child that people count on them, and that their team needs them in order to be complete.
Finally, if one of our children realizes that he or she does not like a sport half way through the season, parents should do all that they can to make them finish out the season. Besides their team counting on them, children will learn what it is like to fulfill a commitment. Who knows, maybe in the process, they will gain respect for the sport or the activity. Seasons are typically short enough to follow through, no matter the level of disinterest or restlessness by one’s child.
Parent volunteers are people our children will remember for the rest of their lives. They are excellent examples of selfless community service. They don’t get paid. They often have full time jobs or stay-at-home parental duties before practices. They are giving the greatest gift to our kids, and they should be treated as such. If our children realize this, they can really be leaders on the team. Finally, they may one day want to grow up to give back, and be a parent volunteer as well.